The UFC and Francis Ngannou Standoff Continues

UFC Perspective

The standoff between the UFC and former heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou shows no signs of abating nearly a year and a half after their acrimonious split. Despite the time that's passed, neither party appears willing to change their stance.

UFC President Dana White has consistently argued that Ngannou chose to leave the promotion to avoid fighting Jon Jones, who many consider to be one of the most fearsome competitors in the history of the sport. White referenced Jones' dominant win over Ciryl Gane as evidence that Ngannou was dodging a potentially tough bout.

"In my opinion, he does the same thing to Francis," White stated emphatically. "100 percent. He does the same thing to Francis. Francis didn’t want to fight Jon Jones."

White's admiration for Jones is well-documented. "Jon Jones is the scariest, most bad-ass fighter of all time," White said. "Jon Jones has his issues outside of the Octagon, which actually makes it more impressive if you think about the lifestyle that he was living, and doing this to the best fighters in the world."

White believes that Jones's true value will only be recognized once he steps away from the sport. "Jon Jones is one of those guys that won’t truly be appreciated until he’s gone. But I’m telling you right now, when you talk about who the baddest man on the planet is, two guys get locked in a room, who is walking out? It's Jon Jones all day, every time."

Ngannou's Perspective

Ngannou maintains that his decision to part ways with the UFC was motivated by the desire for greater control over his career. He expressed frustration over the UFC contract, which he felt did not allow him to operate as an independent contractor, a status that theoretically grants fighters more freedom.

"In that contract, I’m not free," Ngannou said on "The MMA Hour" in January 2023. "In that contract, I’m not an independent contractor. In that contract, I have no rights, I have no power. I hand over all the power to you guys, and I’ve seen in the past how you can utilize that power."

According to Ngannou, his major demands were not met during negotiations with the UFC, leading him to seek opportunities elsewhere. He eventually signed with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), a move that has yet to see him compete in the organization but grants him the control he was yearning for.

The Aftermath

Since leaving the UFC, Ngannou has ventured into the world of boxing, engaging in two high-profile matches, though he lost both. While he’s yet to make his debut in the PFL, the move signifies a fresh chapter in his career where he hopes to exercise the control he felt was lacking under the UFC's banner.

On the flip side, Dana White has continued to be both critical and complimentary of Jon Jones, depending on the situation and the state of their often tense negotiations. White’s view of Jones has oscillated, sometimes dismissive during the heat of contract talks, but ultimately revering him as a once-in-a-generation fighter who has left an indelible mark on the sport.

A Stalemate with No End in Sight

The UFC and Francis Ngannou remain at an impasse, with both sides firmly entrenched in their positions. Where the UFC sees a fighter avoiding a seemingly unbeatable opponent in Jon Jones, Ngannou sees a quest for autonomy and control over his own destiny. As the saga continues to unfold, fans and analysts alike will be watching closely to see if any middle ground can ever be found, or if both parties will continue to chart their separate courses.